We recognise that the success of our business depends on our talented workforce.
Employee related matters
The Chief Executive Officer is responsible for employee matters and he is assisted by the Group Head of Human Resources. The Group is committed to complying with all applicable laws governing employment practices and to the prevention of discrimination on the basis of any unlawful criteria. Employment arrangements are intended to be fair, equitable and consistent with the skills and abilities of the employees and the needs of the business. The Group is committed to developing its employees and ensuring that investment in learning and development is in line with the business strategy and goals.
We recognise that the success of our business depends on our talented workforce. Employees throughout the Group are encouraged to participate in training and development programmes and to obtain professional qualifications relevant to their roles. In order to develop this further, the Group has broadened its management development and graduate recruitment programmes. These programmes focus on recruiting talented graduates and developing the skills and experience to produce potential future managers. The Company has a dedicated learning and development team who deliver in-house training to employees on a wide variety of personal development and compliance-related topics. Much of this is tailored to each business to give the employees targeted, bespoke training which will advance their development.
The Group believes that effective learning and development will help to attract and retain high quality people, support them in reaching their potential and build the capabilities necessary to succeed. In turn this rewards the Group by securing the dedication and motivation of those employees. Keeping our people inspired remains one of our highest priorities. We focus on creating an environment where performance is rewarded, people are respected for their contributions, diversity and inclusion is encouraged and where integrity is upheld in all aspects of our work. The Group remains committed to providing equal opportunities free from discrimination, and to developing and retaining talent to maximise business growth and performance.
The Company also recognises the need to provide flexible working practices to support the needs of employees to maintain a successful work-life balance. In support of this the Company operates a flexible working policy. Under this policy, the Company states that it will, where possible, try and accommodate an employee's needs. During 2017, 49 requests for flexible working were made and 100% were accepted by the Company. Developing and maintaining employee engagement with the Company is important.
The Group communicates with its employees on matters of concern to them as employees, and on the financial and economic factors affecting the performance of the Company. This is done principally through management briefings and newsletters, the Company's website, the Group's intranet resource, and by the distribution of preliminary and interim announcements and press releases. Copies of the Annual Report and Accounts are made available to the operating businesses and this enables employees to gain an understanding of the Group's objectives, performance and how they have contributed to those results. Where decisions are being made which are likely to affect employees' interests, such employees or their representatives are consulted so that their views can be taken into account.
We operate in a competitive marketplace and the Board recognises the importance of rewarding employees appropriately for the value they bring to the business. It aims to offer rewards that attract and retain key talent. The Group also encourages its employees to share in its successes through share ownership. As at 31 December 2017, 284 employees were participants in the James Fisher Sharesave Scheme which gives them the opportunity to purchase shares at the end of a three or five year saving plan (2016: 293).
Equal opportunities and diversity
The Group values the diverse backgrounds of all its people and strives to create a culture of honesty, openness and accountability. It is Group policy to treat all job applicants and employees fairly. The Group has made the commitment that no employee or potential employee shall receive more or less favourable treatment or consideration on the grounds of race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, national origin, religion or belief, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status or any other similarly protected status. We aim to ensure that people from any background or of any gender identity have equal access to employment, training and career progression opportunities. We strive to select individuals on merit and do not consider that targets or quotas are appropriate.
The Board recognises that having a diverse workforce allows the Group to meet better the differing requirements of our global customer base. Our strategy is to identify current and/ or future potential successors to senior management roles throughout the Group, and gender diversity is encouraged by the Board. The Group's diversity policy is reviewed annually and approved by the Board and is available on the Company's website. The objectives of the Group's diversity policy are to ensure that the Group benefits from a diverse workforce and has a working environment where all employees are encouraged to realise their full potential and where there is an open atmosphere of trust, honesty and respect. The policy applies to all Group employees and to all staff, contractors, consultants and any other individual working for, at, or on behalf of the Group. One diversity policy initiative is to provide training and mentoring for women at all stages of their career to support their development as leaders. In the last two years, 63 women passed through this leadership programme.
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The Group will report on gender pay in accordance with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 by 4 April 2018. The Board has been considering the preliminary results of the Group analysis and whether any action might be required.
All of our employees are treated with respect and dignity. Harassment of any kind is not tolerated. In addition to complying with legislative requirements, the Group strives to ensure that disabled employees are treated fairly and that their training, career development and promotion needs are met. If an employee were to become disabled during the course of their employment, the Group would provide support, wherever practicable. Whether through re-training or re-deployment, so that they continue to be employed, wherever practicable, in the same job, or if this were not practicable, every effort would be made to find suitable alternative employment.
Respect for human rights James Fisher is committed to supporting and respecting human rights in the workplace and in the communities in which it operates across its international business. We have implemented work practices and policies throughout the Group which are designed to ensure that respect for human rights is integrated into the systems and culture of our businesses. We do not tolerate the use of child or forced labour within our business and take all steps possible to ensure that our suppliers and customers also uphold internationally recognised human rights.
The Group has a formal slavery and human trafficking statement which outlines steps taken by the Group to ensure that there is transparency in the Group and throughout our supply chains. As part of this policy statement, the Group encourages any concerns relating to modern slavery to be raised using the procedure set out in the whistleblowing policy. There is an on-going process of risk assessment with the effectiveness of this statement and the Group's other policies, and procedures being regularly monitored and reviewed by the Audit Committee to ensure that they align with our Group strategy. During 2017, no whistleblowing reports were brought to the attention of the Audit Committee.
If you would like to see the range of job opportunities available within the James Fisher and Son plc group, please visit our careers section.